The Same and Not the Same

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Overview

Positioned at the crossroads of the physical and biological sciences, chemistry deals with neither the infinitely small, nor the infinitely large, nor directly with life. So it is sometimes thought of as dull, the way things in the middle often are. But this middle ground is precisely where human beings exist, and, as Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffmann shows, the world at the molecular level is complex and agitated, like the emotions of the supposedly dispassionate scientists who explore it. In The Same and Not the Same Hoffmann does for chemistry what Stephen Hawking did for cosmology: he illuminates a science that for many has been shrouded in mystery.

An accessible insider's view of chemistry, this volume helps explain a science that to most of us remains shrouded in mystery. Hoffmann explores the pressing environmental and ecological issues of our time, and confronts some of the major ethical controversies in chemistry today. More than 100 illustrations and photos enhance this sweeping exploration of modern chemistry.

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Editorial Reviews

Biologist
This [is a] refreshing, often controversial panorama of science as it is really conducted by talented, fallible human beings . . . by one of America´s most respected chemists and joint winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
Malcolm W. Browne
Hoffmann . . . has never given up his lifelong campaign to illuminate the beauties of chemistry for the unenlightened . . . . The Same and Not the Same consists of roughly equal parts art and science, and its relaxed style, uncomplicated explanations, and clever illustrations could qualify it as a primer for chemistry haters.
Booknews
Poet and Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffman argues that chemistry, far from being dry and boring, lies at the heart of all meaningful daily experiences. He offers a series of fascinating essays which provide insight into our complex relationships with chemicals, accompanied by abundant, well-chosen color illustrations. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Booknews
Nobel laureate Hoffmann (physical sciences, Cornell U.) explains to general readers the questions chemistry deals with, the methods used to do so, and the significance it makes in our lives. He compares the molecular realm to the middle scale between infinitely large and small where humans live, and demonstrates the ambiguous characteristics and behavior of chemicals. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231101387
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 9/21/1995
  • Series: George B. Pegram Lecture Series
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Roald Hoffmann was born in Zloczow, Poland, in 1937. Having survived the Nazi occupation, he arrived in the U.S. in 1949, after several years of post-war wandering in Europe. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School, Columbia University, and proceeded to take his Ph.D. in 1962, at Harvard University, working with W. N. Lipscomb and Martin Gouterman. Dr. Hoffmann stayed on at Harvard University from 1962-1965, as a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows. Since 1965, he has been at Cornell University, where he is now the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters Emeritus. Professor Hoffmann is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He has been elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, the Indian National Science Academy, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Nordrhein-Westfällische Academy of Sciences, and the Leopoldina. He has received numerous honors, including over twenty-five honorary degrees. He is the only person ever to have received the American Chemical Society's awards in three different specific subfields of chemistry -- the A. C. Cope Award in Organic Chemistry, the Award in Inorganic Chemistry, and the Pimentel Award in Chemical Education. As well as two other ACS awards. In 1981, he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Kenichi Fukui. "Applied theoretical chemistry" is the way Roald Hoffmann likes to characterize the particular blend of computations stimulated by experiment and the construction of generalized models, of frameworks for understanding, that is his contribution to chemistry. In more than 500 scientific articles and two books he has taught the chemical community new and useful ways to look at the geometry and reactivity of molecules, from organic through inorganic to infinitely extended structures. Dr. Hoffmann participated in the production of a television course about chemistry. "The World of Chemistry" is a series of 26 half-hour programs developed at the University of Maryland and produced by Richard Thomas. Dr. Hoffmann is the Presenter for the series, which has been aired on PBS beginning in 1990, and has been shown widely abroad. Roald Hoffmann has also written popular and scholarly articles on science and other subjects. His poetry has appeared in various literary magazines. Two collections, entitled "The Metamict State" (1987) and "Gaps and Verges" (1990), were published by the University of Florida Press; "Memory Effects," was published in 1999 by the Calhoun Press of Columbia College, Chicago. At the end of 2002 two poetry collections were published by Roald Hoffmann, "Soliton," by Truman State University Press, and volume of selected poems translated into Spanish, "Catalísta."

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface xiii
Part 1 Identity--the Central Problem 1
1 Lives of the Twins 3
2 What Are You? 7
3 Whirligigs 11
4 Fighting Reductionism 18
5 The Fish, the Worm, and the Molecule 22
6 Telling Them Apart 25
7 Isomerism 26
8 Are There Two Identical Molecules? 32
9 Handshakes in the Dark 36
10 Molecular Mimicry 44
Part 2 The Way It Is Told 53
11 The Chemical Article 55
12 And How It Came to Be That Way 58
13 Beneath the Surface 62
14 The Semiotics of Chemistry 65
15 What DOES That Molecule Look Like? 69
16 Representation and Reality 75
17 Struggles 79
18 The Id Will Out 82
Part 3 Making Molecules 85
19 Creation and Discovery 87
20 In Praise of Synthesis 94
21 Cubane, and the Art of Making It 101
22 The Aganippe Fountain 107
23 Natural/Unnatural 111
24 Out to Lunch 116
25 Why We Prefer the Natural 118
26 Janus and Nonlinearity 124
Part 4 When Something Is Wrong 127
27 Thalidomide 129
28 The Social Responsibility of Scientists 139
Part 5 How, Just Exactly, Does It Happen? 141
29 Mechanism 143
30 The Salieri Syndrome 150
31 Static/Dynamic 153
32 Equilibrium, and Perturbing It 160
Part 6 A Life in Chemistry 165
33 Fritz Haber 167
Part 7 That Certain Magic 177
34 Catalyst! 179
35 Three Ways 184
36 Carboxypeptidase 190
Part 8 Value, Harm, and Democracy 197
37 Tyrian Purple, Woad, and Indigo 199
38 Chemistry and Industry 204
39 Athens 209
40 The Democratizing Nature of Chemistry 211
41 Environmental Concerns 213
42 Science and Technology in Classical Democracy 217
43 Anti-Plato; or, Why Scientists (or Engineers) Shouldn't Run the World 219
44 A Response to Worries About the Environment 222
45 Chemistry, Education, and Democracy 227
Part 9 The Adventures of a Diatomic 229
46 C[subscript 2] in All Its Guises 231
Part 10 The Dualities That Enliven 241
47 Creation Is Hard Work 243
48 Missing 246
49 An Attribute of the Devil 250
50 Chemistry Tense, Full of Life? 254
51 Cheiron 257
Notes 261
Acknowledgments 283
Index 287
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